What is Your Leadership Legacy?

By Licia Walsworth, Communications Strategist

3 keys to leading through a crisis

Leadership can be defined as your ability to influence people to follow your guidance willingly. Or, it can be defined as your ability to command or apply force.

Which defines your leadership style: the type that attracts or forces? It’s an important question, particularly during a time of crisis, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, when your leadership style will determine your leadership legacy. That legacy will be engrained in the hearts and minds of your team members for years to come. So, how do you want to be remembered?

I have seen the full spectrum of leadership styles over the course of my career. This has allowed me to truly understand which leadership style encourages peak performance. If you’re a leader who tends to throw your title around to get the job done, the following insights might help you understand how to become a leader people will follow willingly, without conflict or force.

For me, leadership that achieves peak performance boils down to three simple concepts: Connection. Compassion. Core values.

During today’s public health, business disruption and economic crises, these three defining characteristics are more important to embrace than ever.

1. Connection

Your current team situation could look vastly different than it did two months ago. Furloughs, remote work and virtual meetings may mean big changes in how and who you are connecting with. This does not change your responsibilities as a leader. How connected are you to your team? Do you understand their home situation amid this pandemic? Are you in contact on a consistent basis, and not just through a quick text? Do they have updates on their company, their jobs, and their financial well-being? During this time of uncertainty, be their certain.

If you regularly struggle with forming a meaningful connection with your team members, use this chance to create it. If there are silver linings to this climate, this is one. Find creative ways to bridge the gap with those who serve under your leadership. All of this will carry through as life begins to return to what will be our new normal.

2. Compassion

A heart-led leader can sometimes be seen as weak. I feel this is the biggest misconception of our time created by those that have inner fears of insecurity. Think back over your career to those who truly inspired and mentored you, to those you worked hardest for and to whom you wanted to prove yourself. If you became a leader just to move up in your career, then you have missed the point. To lead – to provide guidance, to mentor the next generation of leaders, to help carve a path for those to serve after you, that is the ultimate goal. Compassion for your team and the situations they exist in is a powerful tool in understanding how to manage them effectively.

Just as one shirt does not fit all people, neither does one leadership style. Your compassion for each team member gives you the blueprints to their inner workings. With empathy, you can recognize who makes decisions based on uncertainty, who is meticulous and needs to increase their response time, who thrives on praise, and who fears being wrong. Ask your employees how they are doing – and mean it. Find out how their family or pets are doing, and how homeschooling is going. Try a Zoom call just to check in. Think about how you can level the playing field. You are no longer in your private office, behind your large desk and name placard. You are behind a computer screen, in your place of comfort—your home–that has turned as professional as it can be.

If you show you care for your team, they will work harder because they, in turn, will care about you.

3. Core Values

Core values reflect your life’s purpose and who you ultimately want to be. What would your team say is your defining trait? Perhaps it’s integrity. Honesty. Accountability. Determination. Strength. Can you honestly say you would do everything you ask your team to do? Or do you convey the message of “do as I say, not as I do?” True leaders inspire — and not just through their messaging. They lead by example. They lead by their values.

Are you asking more of your team in this current climate than you would want to take on yourself? Are you a part of the problem instead of the solution? Take this time to reflect on the situations and drivers that landed you in your leadership role in the first place. How can you take your beliefs to inspire someone else to get to that same point in their career trajectory? How can you be the leader who others aspire to become?

True leaders arise out of challenging times. Are you living the lifestyle of a leader or just going through the motions through a title you were given? Have you rolled up your sleeves to be part of the team and to understand where they are coming from in this unprecedented situation? How will you be remembered for your leadership style when the time comes to put the pieces back together? What will your leadership legacy be?

The best video conferencing software? It depends on what you have to say

By Shae Geary — Senior Communications Strategist

Now that most of us are working virtually, video conferencing has become the new normal. But not all video conferencing software is created equal or suits every purpose. As communicators, we know that the vessel used to communicate is just as important as what we are communicating. In that spirit, we’ve taken a look at four video conferencing software solutions with our best advice for when and how to use them. Full disclosure: This is not a comprehensive list of video conferencing apps, rather those with which we’ve had some personal experience or knowledge.

FaceTime Takes the Place of the Office Drop In

Video conferencing software hardly gets easier than Apple’s FaceTime. Platforms like FaceTime are great for quick check-ins with co-workers or clients. However, they often have limited capabilities for anything other than chatting. In the case of FaceTime, all participants have to have an iPhone or Mac. Some people also find FaceTime’s group chat distracting since faces zoom in and out depending on who is speaking.

Alternatives: Alternatives do exist for Windows and Android users. Facebook Messenger has a video chat option and is easy to use with people in your follower network. Google’s Duo works across Android and iOS devices and allows you to chat with up to 12 people. Subscribers to Slack also have the option of video chats.

GoToMeeting is Ideal for Team Meetings and Smaller Group Presentations of 250 or Fewer 

The team at (W)right On Communications has been using GoToMeeting video conferencing software on a fairly consistent basis. This is a paid platform, with a free 14-day trial, and has proven easy for our weekly company-wide team meetings and client partner meetings. Users have access to features such as screen share, text messaging with other participants and the option to highlight just the speaker on screen.

One feature especially useful is the choice of computer audio or audio via a dial-in phone conference line. In a household where several of us are using Wi-Fi bandwidth at the same time, the dial-in conference line allows you to continue to hear the conversation even when video may pause due to slow connection time. Another helpful feature is the personal join screen prompt. This provides you with the opportunity to adjust camera angle and background clutter before joining the call.

TIP: Find a list of video chat best practices in our blog post, “7 Tips for Pitching TV Reporters During the Coronavirus Outbreak”

Alternatives: Skype has many of the same functionalities and is free for up to 50 people to meet and collaborate. Microsoft Teams, which has video conference capabilities with Skype integration, is another alternative for those who use the Microsoft Office suite of software. G Suite users have free access to Google Meet, which supports multiple users and doesn’t require separate software installation.

Zoom Supports Large Group Presentations and Gatherings

Zoom has quickly emerged as the most popular video conferencing software. Quick growth has not come without controversy including security concerns (hello Zoombombing!) and allegations of sharing private user data with Facebook. Challenges aside, basic Zoom features can be used free of charge with paid plans offering enhanced video conferencing features.

While Zoom can be used for just about any purpose and has all the functions that you’d expect—shared screen, appointment setting and ability to invite people to chat on the fly—it has quickly become a standout for meetings and presentations to larger audiences. The video conferencing software offers a number of handy features for larger group conferences. Examples include non-verbal feedback (such as hand raising), screen annotating for both presenter and viewers and ability to record a session direct to your computer. I particularly like the virtual background option, so people don’t have to see that you are actually calling in from your bedroom!

For instance, check out these beautiful vineyard backgrounds from our client partner, Visit Napa Valley.

Invite Your Co-Workers to Happy Hour with Houseparty

Let’s be honest, all work and no play are no fun. When it’s time to just socialize with your team, Houseparty is where it’s at. This video conferencing app alerts you when friends are “in the house” and allows users to jump in and out of chats as desired. There are also some fun features like games, including Heads Up!, Quick Draw and trivia, so you’ll feel like you are at the local pub for happy hour!

Strengthening Connections in the ‘Stay Home’ Era

By Licia Walsworth — Communications Strategist

How businesses can adapt via the virtual world

Individuals and businesses alike are experiencing a profound shift in reality, with life feeling more and more like the plot of a novel or movie. Organizations have seen their entire workforces confined to their homes. Schools and universities stand vacant. Small business owners have no customers coming through their doors. Friends, colleagues, teammates, and extended family members suddenly find themselves isolated from one another.

But a remarkable thing happens when people are faced with a challenge: They become innovators, problem solvers, and out-of-the-box thinkers.

Physical Distancing – Not Social Distancing

Technology makes it possible to keep the economy moving. It enables us to remain connected in ways that would not have been conceivable just a decade ago. In a world where coworkers had typically been spending more time with one another on a weekly basis than with their own families, the virtual world is now providing people with a unique opportunity for valuable human interaction — on a personal level, as well as on a professional level. Companies are adapting to virtual team meetings and telecommuting on a grand scale. If carried out correctly, these shifts can result in a greater sense of engagement and self-worth on the part of employees.

Connecting online actually does more than keeping us connected. It is strengthening connections by creating more personal or intimate interactions than coworkers could ever have had before. On a video conference call, for instance, coworkers might glimpse one another’s kids, pets, and home-based work spaces. This levels the playing field in a new way; it makes everyone human and more than just a title or job description. This increases the emotional investment coworkers, managers and direct reports have in each other. The old adage stands true: You work harder for those you care about and those who you know care about you.

That quick knock on the door to ask a question or to chat briefly has been replaced by such platforms as Microsoft Teams or Slack. The ability to quickly bounce ideas back and forth without multiple emails or an extended meeting makes for more efficient communication and a valuable savings on time.

Business-to-client interactions have seen a dramatic change, too. Marketing messages are more mindful, taking on a human element over sales-driven campaigns, as businesses of all kinds recognize that everyone is living in a new state of reality. Communicating to your target audience may mean pulling back from your business-as-usual marketing, but it does not mean sacrificing your brand. As client and customer priorities change amid crisis, companies must take the time to coach them through this next phase — whether that means making sure a client’s business keeps running or reassuring a customer that you will be there for them through the thick and thin. Interactions in this new reality matter; relationships strengthened in a time of need will continue to prosper moving forward.

From Karate to Cake-Making

Communicating in new ways is forcing innovation everywhere. Karate instructors are using Zoom to hold virtual classes. Schoolteachers and principals are using Twitter to stream book read-alouds or to recite the Pledge of Allegiance first thing in the morning. Grandparents are sharing cake-baking lessons with their grandchildren via Google Duo. Maintaining that level of interaction with students, loved ones, and your community during this time is crucial.

Business owners at all levels can find similar ways of engaging their customer base, strengthening connections in the virtual world, in order to continue moving their work forward and ensure they remain financially stable. That does not mean that you need to push your products or take advantage of your customers during a difficult time; it means staying true to your brand and what you can do for your audience. Consider distance learning education companies that are sharing strategies and tools for free not only with teachers, but also with parents who now find themselves homeschooling. Airlines and hotels that are waiving change and cancellation fees for travelers. Keep your loyal customers and be an example of goodwill during a time of crisis.

This is the time for strengthening connections to push a heightened sense of community and trust, to serve as a resource to your clients, and be an example in the virtual age to your team.

When Your Passion is Contagious, it Spreads

Contagious passion

By Julie Wright —President

Twitter: @juliewright


Passion is an awesome thing. It gives you the drive needed to push past obstacles and embrace challenges. But passion alone isn’t enough.

To succeed as a strategic communicator, you need what the (W)right On Communications team calls contagious passion. Contagious passion is one of our core values. Why?

Because, if your passion for your client, pitch or charitable cause doesn’t infect others, you can’t advance it. With earned media, shared media and word of mouth driving more brand connections than paid strategies today, contagious passion is essential to your success as a communicator.

Any trending hashtag is a symptom of an outbreak of shared passion across the Twittersphere. It signifies that thousands of people are fired up about this Sunday’s game or the most recent national “holiday” celebrating chocolate eclairs or brandied fruit.

Similarly, a long string of comments on a Facebook post will raise a post’s visibility on the platform. In a way, the Facebook algorithm is fueled by contagious passion. But to achieve that kind of engagement you’ve got to develop content that contains an idea, concept or image people can connect to emotionally. Without that shared feeling, there’s no reason to care and without a reason to care, there’s no motivation to act. Which means failure.

I have a friend who has a contagious passion for slowing climate change. When she tells me about a book she encountered that examines the top 100 solutions for reversing global warming and what it taught her, it’s not long before I’m downloading my own copy of Project Drawdown and telling others about it. In a matter of 24 hours, I’ve infected three other people with this book’s intriguing research and ideas.

I’ve been thinking about our agency culture and the importance of our values, like contagious passion, because we added a new team member a few months ago. During the interview process and since joining the team, she has made it clear that she has a passion for communications, for her clients and for the work we do at (W)right On Communications.

Her client partners have quickly taken to her because they can see, and more importantly feel, that she cares about their organizations and achieving results for them. Her fast start has been remarkable but no accident. She brought the passion and infected others with it.

Think about the last time you were in a meeting where someone renewed your enthusiasm for a project or won you over to their vision or idea. I guarantee you that their contagious enthusiasm played a big part, and you probably applied yourself to the task with more gusto because you were inspired by it.

You can fake passion, but it’s hard to fake a contagious passion. If your words don’t align with your body language—animated gestures, leaning forward, maintaining eye contact—people won’t pick up on what you’re putting out. If your heart isn’t in it, then your passion won’t feel authentic to others or move them. Most importantly, it won’t fulfill you.

And that’s important. You should love what you do, care deeply about what you’re communicating and be invested in the success of your idea, client or team.

That passion motivates you to excel, to learn all that you can about your client or craft and to challenge yourself to grow and reach mastery.

We all encounter wet blankets in our work life. People who are genetic anomalies and immune to passion. They’re a bummer to work with or for, of course, and probably don’t understand why no one listens to their ideas or wants to go to lunch with them. Think Eeyore.

Those people are probably just in the wrong job or career. Or they’ve given up and lost their mojo.

For others who love what they do but struggle to muster a contagious passion, the cause can often be their own fear and insecurities. They’ve put a wall around their passion because they’re afraid to be wrong, to fail or to show that they don’t know something they should.

For your passion to be contagious, you need to get in touch with it. What excites you? What’s worth sticking your neck out for?

If you have a contagious passion for a hobby or a sports team, invest the same zeal into your client’s business or your employer’s industry to find the joy. It’s possible. Often, the more you invest yourself in a topic, the more exciting it becomes. It’s the difference between the college courses you had to take in your first year and those you chose to take in your senior year.

In the same way that smiling can make you feel better, choosing to find the joy can make you feel the passion. The cart doesn’t always have to follow the horse. The main point is to find it, feel it and spread it to others.

We spend a lot of time blogging here about communication strategies and tactics, but communication success starts with passion and the ability to make others care. What goes around comes around, and contagious passion is no exception. I hope you’ve felt mine and that this post leaves you a little more stoked to make the most of your work whatever it may be!

 

How to Strengthen your Business with Diversity

By Ronda Williams—Marketing & Administrative Coordinator

Twitter: @R_Williams11


Diversity is defined as…

an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities.

(W)OC has a diverse team of experts in various fields including communications, social media, public relations, graphic design, videography, and more. Not only is our team diverse but the industries we cover are also; this makes for a complementary partnership. Who says you can’t be an expert in more than one field?

The Facts about Diversity:

According to the Harvard School of Law, “the presence of an industry expert independent director is associated with an increase of 4.6% in firm value.”

Whether it be a firm, agency, or business having an industry expert will add to the value of your company.

Another fact  says, “40% of respondents in a recent survey of S&P 500 firms identified industry expertise as a desired background.”

We all could learn a thing-or-two from the business strategies of the S&P 500 firms.

Diversity in a Contagious Atmosphere:

At (W)OC we have a positive atmosphere that makes for less stress and allows us to GSD (Get Stuff Done).  Everyone here works together in  the benefit of achieving the tasks at hand.

Mark Nadler says, “You want people who understand the business and the industry that you’re in so they can think strategically.”

Having a team that is comprised of a diverse background makes for a winning team that can strategize together for the big win.

To put it simply, “a diverse team makes for a strong team!”

He goes on to say, “the roles of the individual board member, the outside person, is to pull the two sides together, to create a link and to bridge different opinions and different points of view.”  Again, backing up the concept of,

A diverse team = A strong team!

At (W)OC we help strengthen each other with our expertise. We’re always lending advice and coming together for a team huddle to create winning strategies for our client partner’s. Having that one team member that is an expert in such industries can be helpful to bring together both sides of a vision.

To learn more about the diverse industries that we cover please visit, www.WrightOnComm.com or give us a call at (858) 755-5411 and let us help bring your visions to life!

Does Listening to Music at Work Increase Productivity?

By Ronda Williams­­ Marketing & Administrative Coordinator’

Twitter: @R_Williams11


“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything” -Plato

Here at (W)right On Communications we are encouraged to turn up our music and jam out as we work.  When you enter our office you might hear Julie Wright “fist pumping” to some EDM as she finishes up a report or Grant Wright “deep in focus” with some smooth jazz while he draws up a proposal. Then there is Keely Smith singing to Adele or Chance Shay listening to his “brotha-from-another-mother,” the artist formerly known as Kanye West. No matter what time of the day, we’re all listening to music as we work.

One morning I was wondering if listening to music while you work increases your productivity, so I started to research and here is what I found:

It’s good for repetitive work!

 “Various studies have indicated that, in general, people who listened to music while they worked on repetitive tasks performed faster and made fewer errors.”

How music affects the brain…

According to examinedexistence.com,

“The meter, timber, rhythm and pitch of music are managed in areas of the brain that deal with emotions and mood.”

So listening to music while you work should not only increase your productivity but also put you in a better mood. This article goes on to say,

            “A great way to relieve the tensions that bring you down is to listen to music. Soothing tunes can help relax your tensed muscles, as well as pace down your breathing rate.”

Having a relaxed mind and muscles can also help prevent prolonged work injuries to your arms and wrists.

Crew.com quoted neuroscientist and musician, Jamshed Bharucha, as saying:

 “Creative domains, like music, allow humans to connect in a synchronized way, helping us develop a group identity and makes us more likely to work together – which was an immensely important advantage for keeping the human species alive.”

Not only will listening to music while you work put you in a better mood but it will increase team morale in the workplace.

Just remember that you are in control of your mood and stress levels at work. Tomorrow is a brand new day so try something new and listen to some music while you’re getting stuff done.

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